Tourism for Locals: Recycled New Stands Become Kiosk Museums

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Juan De Anda/ SF Weekly
Hidden Museums in the Sidewalks.

San Francisco is known for being the greenest city in America and we locals sure love to recycle everything: paper, clothing, and ideas.

We also do love our art scene and; rightfully so, we are one of the most cultural and artistic cities in the country as well.

Now there is a new, art cultural attraction that creates a cute and quirky fusion of the two: the Kiosk Museum.

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Juan De Anda/ SF Weekly
Curiosities on Hidden Display.
This past summer, Elsa Cameron from Community Arts International opened the Kiosk Museum as a way of injecting visual culture and education to the busy sections of the city like Union Square by re purposing the abandoned ivy-green silos that used to be new stands throughout the city.

The inspiration for this project was to take the obsolete and neglected green silos, once utilized by newsies in flat-caps shouting the headlines of the day, and convert them into perpetual art installations. The final product is a walk-up museum located on the street that is accessible to everyone.

There are about 50 of these unused kiosks in the downtown area, two are lit up for viewing convenience at any time of day. The museum is visible only from the sidewalk, not the street, making them little hidden caverns of curiosities for anyone who stumblers upon them while engaging in a little retail therapy.

The Kiosk Museum is housed in two locations, one at Grant and Maiden Lane (in front of Gucci) and the second at Stockton and Post (in front of Prada). Both displays currently feature "The Greatest Little Show on Earth," which features vintage toys and memorabilia from circuses all around the world from the early 20th century. The toys come countries as varied as Germany, France, and the United States.

The museum is hidden from the street and meant to be visible to those who pay attention to their surroundings. As you approach each window, it provides a small escape from all the crowds and distractions that abound in our metropolis. These little trinkets provide a bit of an educational experience and remind us that learning can come from being a kid and interacting with toys. Our favorite thing about this effort is that each glass protected display acts like a treasure chest and awakens a sense of nostalgic euphoria of our own childhoods.

So will you go check them out? You should, unless of course, you are afraid of clowns.

For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF, Juan at @JuanPDeAnda, and like us on Facebook

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